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Colombia confronts 17 active forest fires in March 2024 so far

March 4, 2024

March opens with environmental challenges in Colombia

In Colombia, the start of March 2024 has been Colombia by a significant environmental challenge, with 17 active forest fires raging across the country.

The El Niño phenomenon has been a contributing factor, affecting 433 municipalities in 29 departments and consuming over 59,000 hectares of vegetation.

The Unidad Nacional para la Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres (UNGRD) is coordinating the response efforts of various entities within the National System for Disaster Risk Management (SNGRD) to address this emergency.

Comprehensive response to the wildfire emergency

To combat the wildfires, the UNGRD has mobilized 19,938 units from various organizations including firefighters, civil defense, the Red Cross, police, national army, Colombian Aeroespacial Force, and personnel from Autonomous Regional Corporations.

So far, the SNGRD has deployed 4,058 fire extinguishing machines and support vehicles, carrying out 863 flight hours and 2,691 discharges.

In these operations, a total of 866,050 gallons of water and 704.3 gallons of fire retardant have been used.

National effort and public awareness in crisis management

Helga María Rivas Ardila, the acting director general of UNGRD, highlighted* the severity of the situation: “We are facing a critical situation that requires the cooperation and solidarity of all sectors.

“At the UNGRD, we are tirelessly working to address these emergencies, protect life, the environment, and support affected communities.”

Additionally, the UNGRD facilitated the declaration of a national disaster through Decree 0037 of 2024, enabling resource allocation and expedited processes to manage the emergency.

Nine departments and 134 municipalities have been declared in a state of public calamity, improving coordination and response management.

FSJA Comment

The forest fires in Colombia represent a severe environmental and humanitarian challenge, emphasizing the importance of effective disaster risk management and inter-agency coordination.

The response by UNGRD and associated entities showcases a robust emergency management system, yet it also underlines the need for ongoing efforts in prevention, awareness, and community engagement.

These fires, fueled by the El Niño phenomenon, demonstrate the intricate link between climate change and natural disasters, necessitating a proactive and sustained approach to environmental stewardship and disaster preparedness.

*The content of this article was produced using automated translation software, any errors are a result of this.

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